January 17th, 2017

Photo by Kareem Elgazzar

After my talk, we sat around the table, as I caught up on dinner. I recounted the time in the mid-nineties when I had met Dr. Heimlich at a reception on Capitol Hill. When my host pointed him out to me at the reception, and asked if I wanted to meet him, I had responded “But I thought he was dead.” She said “No. He’s standing over there drinking a martini. Want me to introduce you?” I said of course. We walked over to a tall, elegant man, I estimated then in his late 70’s or…

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January 16th, 2017

City Lights

There are few moments when it is clear that one stands at the threshold between death and life. And there are even fewer when one has the privilege to be able to pull a life back across that threshold, or prevent it from going over. Even though I am a physician, I can count them on the fingers of one hand. Once, when I was a resident doctor running the emergency room in a small community hospital in Montreal, I decided to admit a young woman to hospital who had what seemed like a simple…

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December 23rd, 2016

holidaywrapping

You’ve heard of “good stress/bad stress,” right? [Link] We’re all probably feeling some of both now, in the holiday crunch. You’re feeling good stress when you are excited about getting together with loved ones, looking forward to sharing gifts, meals, and holiday traditions. Bad stress is feeling overwhelmed by it all, being pressed to get all those gifts bought, wrapped, and distributed in time, while at the same time preparing all that delicious food to serve to your guests,…

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December 13th, 2016

Sidewalk Poem

I came upon this poem, carved into the sidewalk in the most unlikely place – along a six-lane thoroughfare in the Tucson Foothills, overlooking the city and Tucson Mountains to the south, flanked by the Santa Catalina Mountains to the North. I have driven by this spot at least several times per week and sometimes more, from the day I moved to Tucson four and a half years ago. I mostly drive by, like all the other cars, at the speed limit of 45 mph. I slow down if I am turning into my…

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November 12th, 2016

electionstressbrainpicusanov2016

To my readers: sorry for being offline for a while – I was stressing over the elections – and apparently I am not alone. But the storm and fury of the election didn’t just cause us all to be stressed – one could argue that the brain’s stress response played a very large role in causing that storm and fury. In 1881, in his book called “American Nervousness, Its Causes and Consequences,” George M. Beard said: “The chief and primary cause of …[the] very rapid increase of…

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